Looking for the Summer

( 4 )

Overview

David Thompson is a former Vietnam War conscientious objector in Paris on a quest to find himself in the early days of 1977. When he befriends an Iranian and an Afghan and is invited to return with them to their countries, his quest slowly becomes a descent into his own personal hell.

On the road from Europe to the East he encounters Kurdish bandits in the eastern mountains of Turkey, becomes involved with an underground group opposed to the Shah in Iran, escapes to Afghanistan,...

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Looking for the Summer

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Overview

David Thompson is a former Vietnam War conscientious objector in Paris on a quest to find himself in the early days of 1977. When he befriends an Iranian and an Afghan and is invited to return with them to their countries, his quest slowly becomes a descent into his own personal hell.

On the road from Europe to the East he encounters Kurdish bandits in the eastern mountains of Turkey, becomes involved with an underground group opposed to the Shah in Iran, escapes to Afghanistan, and later suffers extreme sickness on the streets of Delhi and Calcutta. Although continually searching for the happiness and identity he could not find in the U.S., he cannot easily shed his American past. Throughout the journey he is hounded by the demons of memory, particularly that of his father, a World War Two hero who disowned David and died while David was still in prison. The journey itself becomes a physical manifestation of his struggle to achieve reconciliation with his own conscience.

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Editorial Reviews

Marnie Mueller
"'Looking for the Summer' is a stunning novel of a metaphorical and physical journey across the Middle East. Though set during the 1970s, this story of war and pacifism and redemption is as pertinent to today's global struggles as tomorrow's news. Fashioned in exquisite language and bolstered with some of the most beautiful descriptive passages I've ever read, 'Looking for the Summer' takes us on a voyage over deserts and mountains and through cities as the protagonist pursues spiritual, intellectual, political, and psychological enlightenment. This is a remarkable book and a must read for anyone seeking insight into the historical precedents for our post September 11 world."
author of "Green Fires," "The Climate of the Country," and "My Mother's Island"
Knowbetter.com
"'Looking for the Summer' brings to light the turmoil going through the mind of a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War ... a powerfully written novel.... Highly important in its message about standing up for what one believes and about the personal growth one experiences while on a soul-searching journey as a result of taking such action ... certain to have a profound impact on the reader. It is a must-read, unforgettable novel."
CultureVulture.net
"Although published prior to the events of 9/11, it is impossible to pick up Norris's novel without a heightened interest in its vividly depicted locales in a part of the world where our attentions are now so intensely focused. Several fascinating chapters are devoted to [the protagonist's] stay in Afghanistan. Written with a novelist's eye for characterization and a reporter's skill for observation, 'Looking for the Summer' is the kind of small press gem that is often overlooked but is well worth seeking out."
Alternative Approaches Magazine
"In the hands of any author, 'Looking for the Summer' would probably be a compelling read due to the inherent intrigue in the story's setting. But Norris is a masterful writer and storyteller, and he uses his craft to elevate this tale above mere 'compelling' or 'interesting' to the realm of uplifting and insightful. He deftly paints a portrait of his locations using a visual poetry that is neither self-conscious nor affected.... This is a fascinating novel, told in spellbinding English. I can't recommend it enough."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781411611306
  • Publisher: Lulu.com
  • Publication date: 8/28/2004
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.37 (d)

First Chapter

I had just returned to the Hotel des Mines on Boulevard Saint Michel from one of my customary evening walks. As I approached the front desk to retrieve my room key I noticed the two Asiatics. They were speaking and gesticulating excitedly in an attempt to communicate a message to the desk clerk, who spoke only French.
The taller of the two turned to me and asked, "Do you speak English?"
"Yes, I do."
"This man does not speak English. We must leave an important message and he does not understand. Can you help us?"
"Perhaps. What's the message?"
He explained that a German friend named Thomas Knorr would be calling the hotel and was to be told the two had arrived in Paris and would meet him in the German town of Lorrach in a matter of days. There was some urgency concerning a business transaction. I had learned enough French in my two months in Paris to give a crude interpretation. The desk clerk said he would relay the message if the German called.
"Allah be praised," the Asiatics exclaimed, throwing their arms to the air. "Let us celebrate your arrival at a good time. Come, we shall have some tea."
The three of us proceeded across the street to a tea shop. We made our introductions. The taller man, Hasan Fahtami, was a carpet dealer from Iran. He was in Paris looking to expand his family business. He had been to Europe once before. He was thin, clean-shaven, and well-dressed in European clothes. He had intelligent, dark eyes, and a bright smile. His companion was an Afghan named Ataullah Abduli, who was part owner of a small motel in Kabul. It was his first time out of Afghanistan. Ataullah was also dress in Western clothes --  boots, jeans, denim jacket-but his clothes were worn and shabby. He was shorter than Hasan, but much stockier. He had a thick, wiry, black beard, a prominent nose, and a full head of black hair.
"You were very kind to help us, Mr. Thompson," Hasan said.
"It was nothing really. Please call me David."
"I will call you David-jan. 'Jan' means 'soul' in Farsi, but we use it to mean 'good friend.' We are strangers to you, but you helped us anyway. No other people in this country help us. The French never help us. They never speak English and I know many of them do. It makes me angry when they refuse to speak English. They think they are better than we are. The people in our countries always help strangers. They are friendly people. I hate this country. The people are too cold. You should visit Iran and Afghanistan. They are ten times better than France. We are staying in Paris only a few days to make some business contacts. Then we will go to Germany. And you, David-jan, what do you think of France? Do you plan to be in Paris very long?"
"My experience here hasn't been too bad, but it is expensive and I don't know how long I can stay. I have no income and I don't think the money I have will last very long. Is it difficult to find work in Iran? Is it expensive there?"
Hasan told me there would be no problems finding a job. There were many Americans working in the oil business and many others teaching English. The cost of living was not high, libraries were free to use, a room would be easy to find, and the affability of his people would make me want to spit on Paris. Ataullah nodded in agreement.  So impressed were they with the friendliness I had displayed that, much to my amazement, both Hasan and Ataullah offered their services and friendship if I would return to their countries with them.  Dreams of adventure danced in my mind. I wasted no time agreeing to their proposal. They appeared pleased with my decision.
For the next two days I took time to help my new friends. I acted as their guide, taking them to all the favorite places in Paris I had discovered. I helped them buy gifts to take back to loved ones, secured their train tickets to Germany, and helped in processing their visas.
"You are very different from the other Americans," Hasan often said.  "You do not act so proud and arrogant and rich. You are not afraid to mix with others who are different from yourself. You will like Asia very much."
Ataullah, in particular, fascinated me. Hasan was more westernized in his dress, his mannerisms, the way he expressed himself. He was ingratiating when dealing with someone he believed higher on the social hierarchy than himself, someone from whom he could gain something. Ataullah, on the other hand, was reserved and unpretentious. He seemed awed by the immensity of the buildings as we paced the streets, baffled by the complexity of the traffic, disgusted with the hectic pace of a city where few people had time for one another.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

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(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 25, 2011

    Amazing travelogue

    While searching for himself in France, a man meets two Arabs and forms a fast friendship. He departs on a harrowing car trip to their homeland along treacherous mountain roads populated by blood thirsty tribes, and that is just the beginning of the strange new world the man is entering.
    Looking for the Summer takes the reader on a journey to Iran before the overthrow of the Shah, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to see the teeming capitals as well as hard scrabble existence of the rural inhabitants.
    It's a great, fast paced read that dominated my thoughts for weeks afterward.
    Now, I am looking forward to reading more from Robert W. Norris.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012

    not recommended

    don't bother--boring

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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